Juan Mata was delighted he and his team mates were able to give the Stamford Bridge crowd plenty to cheer about on Sunday afternoon, even if they did have to dig deep in the second half against Arsenal to win the game.
The Spaniard became the team’s joint highest scorer for the season when he struck his 14th goal early in the first half, and he was at the heart of many of the moves that left Arsenal looking distinctly second best. Frank Lampard doubled the advantage which Arsenal were then able to halve as they improved after the interval. But the two Chelsea goals proved enough to make it six wins in the last eight Barclays Premier League games.
‘We knew that we had to do a good performance at home, the last few games at Stamford Bridge weren’t good enough,’ said Mata after the London derby victory.
‘It was very important winning in front of our own supporters after these games in a row here without a win and against rivals like Arsenal who are one of the best teams in the Premier League, it is a very good win.
‘It is always important to score in the first minutes of play,’ he said of his goal, his third against Arsenal. ‘You are more relaxed playing when you are already winning and in the first half we played well and created a lot of chances.
‘In the second half we suffered a little because Arsenal have a lot of top players, they play with quality in the midfield, and we knew they were going to try to score. They scored a good goal by Walcott and the top sides always try to score and to win.
‘It was very hard in the second 45 minutes, we were defending until the end and we knew that Arsenal never give up, but it was very positive for us the way we played in the first half and the way we defended in the second half.’
On balance it was a good weekend for Chelsea and our standing in the top six. Everton are to play on Monday evening and Manchester City won but Manchester United and Tottenham shared a draw and by achieving a league double over them this season, we are now 11 points clear of sixth-placed Arsenal having played a game more. Mata is not looking at the league table too closely.
‘I think the clever thought is just thinking step by step and we have a lot of games now, playing every three days. We have to focus just on the next game which is Swansea away in the cup and we have to score three goals at least to get through to the final, and that is our aim now.’